:: The Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) :: The Skills Revolution – are we making progress?

:: The Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) :: The Skills Revolution – are we making progress?

Artisan training

South Africa suffers from a declining and aging artisan workforce.
In 1975, 33 000 apprentices were registered in South Africa: by the year 2000 there were only 3 000;
The average age of artisans is 54 years: in terms of one estimate, 70 per cent of current employed artisans will exit the labour force over the next five to six years;
JIPSA’s research estimates that South Africa currently produces about 5 000 artisans a year, which will have to rise to 12 500 a year for the next four years to meet demand for a projected increase of 30 000 over the period 2007 to 2010.
The apprenticeship system was associated with the apartheid workplace, and after 1994 many in government felt that artisan skills would be of little importance in the skills base of the ‘new economy’ which was to emerge. Out of a desire to reach employment equity targets and address youth unemployment, most learnerships have been granted to teach low-end skills rather than intermediate, artisan skills.

The research concluded that South Africa needs a high-level coordinating effort with respect to artisans embracing all players: industry bodies, SETAs, the National Skills Authority, the National Skills Fund and FET colleges. Additionally, we should consider reviewing and simplifying training by, inter alia, revisiting apprenticeships and encouraging on-the-job training by reintroducing a learning culture and knowledge transfer in both public and private sector organisations.

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